CLEVELAND PAST AND PRESENT
Its Representative Men
Comprising Biographical Sketches of Pioneer Settlers and Prominent Citizens
With a History of the City and Historical Sketches of Its Commerce, Manufactures, Ship Building, Railroads, Telegraphy, Schools, Churches, Etc., Profusely Illustrated with Photographic Views and Portraits
Photographically Illustrated by E. Decker
In many ways the story of the survey and first settlement of Cleveland has been made familiar to the public. It has been told at pioneer gatherings, reproduced in newspapers and periodicals, enlarged upon in directory prefaces and condensed for works of topographical reference. Within a short time Col. Charles Whittlesey has gathered up, collected, and arranged the abundant materials for the Early History of Cleveland in a handsome volume bearing that title.
But Col. Whittlesy's volume closes with the war of 1812, when Cleveland was still a pioneer settlement with but a few families. The history of the growth of that settlement to a village, its development into a commercial port, and then into a large and flourishing city, with a busy population of a hundred thousand persons, remained mostly unwritten, and no part of it existing in permanent form. The whole period is covered by the active lives of men yet with us who have grown up with the place, and with whose history that of the city is inseparably connected. It occurred to the projector of this work that a history of Cleveland could be written in the individual histories of its representative men, that such a volume would not only be a reliable account of the growth of the city in its general features and in the development of its several branches of industry, but would possess the additional advantage of the interest attaching to personal narrative. This idea has been faithfully worked out in the following pages, not without much labor and difficulty in the collection and arrangement of the materials. Besides the personal narratives, an introductory sketch to each of the departments of business into which the biographical sketches are grouped gives a brief account of the rise and present position of that particular industry; these, taken together, forming a full and accurate business and professional history of the city. An introductory sketch of the general history of Cleveland gives completeness to the whole, whilst the numerous illustrations and portraits add greatly to the interest and value of the work.
Numerous as are the sketches, it is not, of course, claimed that all are represented in the volume who deserve a place in it. This would be impossible in a work of ordinary dimensions, even were it convenient, or even possible, to obtain the necessary materials. The aim has been to sketch sufficient of the representative men in each leading business and professional department to give a fair idea of the nature and extent of that department. It is not a complete biographical dictionary of Cleveland, but a volume of biographical selections, made, as the lawyers say, "without prejudice."
History of Cleveland.
For the records of the first sixteen or seventeen years of the history of Cleveland, what may be styled its pioneer history, the local historian will hereafter be indebted to the work of Col. Whittlesey, where every known and reliable fact connected with that period of Cleveland's history is carefully preserved.
The city was originally comprised in lands purchased by the "Connecticut Land Company," and formed a portion of what is termed the Western Reserve. This company was organized in 1795, and in the month of May of the following year, it commissioned General Moses Cleaveland to superintend the survey of their lands, with a staff of forty-eight assistants. On the 22d of July, 1796, General Cleaveland, accompanied by Augustus Porter, the principal of the surveying department, and several others, entered the mouth of the Cuyahoga from the lake. Job P. Stiles and his wife are supposed to have been with the party. General Cleaveland continued his progress to Sandusky Bay, leaving enough men to put up a storehouse for the supplies, and a cabin for the accommodation of the surveyors. These were located a short distance south of St. Clair street, west of Union lane, at a spring in the side-hill, in rear of Scott's warehouse. During the season a cabin was put up for Stiles, on lot 53, east side of Bank street, north of the Herald Building, where Morgan & Root's block now stands. This was the first building for permanent settlement erected on the site of the city, although huts for temporary occupancy had been previously built in the neighborhood.
Upon the return of the party from Sandusky, Mr. Porter prepared the outlines of the city. He says: "I surveyed a piece of land designed for a town—its dimensions I do not recollect—probably equal to about a mile square, bounding west on the river, and north on the lake. I made a plot of this ground, and laid it off into streets and lots. Most or all the streets I surveyed myself, when I left it in charge of Mr. Holley to complete the survey of the lots."
The survey of the city was commenced on the 16th of September, and completed about the 1st of October, 1796. Holley's notes state that on Monday, October 17th, he "finished surveying in New Connecticut; weather rainy," and on the following day he records: "We left Cuyahoga at 3 o'clock 17 minutes, for home. We left at Cuyahoga, Job Stiles and wife, and Joseph Landon, with provisions for the Winter." Landon soon abandoned the spot and his place was taken by Edward Paine, who had arrived from the State of New York, for the purpose of trading with the Indians, and who may be considered the first mercantile man who transacted business in Cleveland. Thus, during the Winter of 1796-7, the population of the city consisted of three inhabitants. During the Winter a child is reputed to have been born in the cabin, which had only squaws for nurses.
Early in the Spring of 1797, James Kingsbury and family, from New England, with Elijah Gunn, one of the surveying party, all of whom had continued during the Winter at Conneaut, where they had endured incredible hardships, removed to Cleveland. His first cabin was put up on the site of the Case Block, east of the Public Square, but he subsequently removed to a point east of the present city limits, somewhere on a line with Kinsman Street. Here he remained until his death.
The next families who were attracted to this settlement were those of Major Lorenzo Carter and Ezekiel Hawley, who came from Kirtland, Vermont, the family of the Major being accompanied by Miss Cloe Inches. In the Spring of the following year, (1798,) the former gentleman sowed two acres of corn on the west side of Water street. He was also the first person who erected a frame building in the city, which he completed in 1802; but an unfortunate casualty proved fatal to the enterprise, for when he was about to occupy the residence it was totally destroyed by fire. In 1803, however, he erected another house on the site of the destroyed building, but on this occasion he confined himself to hewn logs.
The fourth addition of the season was that of Nathan Chapman and his family, who, like the patriarchs of yore, traveled with his herd, and marched into the Forest City at the head of two yoke of oxen and four milch cows, which were the first neat stock that fed from the rich pasturage on the banks of the Cuyahoga.
In the Summer of 1797, the surveying party returned to the Western Reserve and resumed their labors, with Cleveland as a head-quarters. It was a very sickly season and three of the number died, one of whom was David Eldridge, whose remains were interred in a piece of ground chosen as a cemetery, at the corner of Prospect and Ontario streets. This funeral occurred on the 3d of June, 1797, and is the first recorded in the city. Recently, while making some improvements to the buildings now occupying that location, some human bones were discovered.
Less than one month after the first funeral, occurred the first wedding. On the 1st of July, 1797, the marriage was solemnized of William Clement, of Erie, to Miss Cloe Inches, who had come to this city with the family of Major Lorenzo Carter. The ceremony was performed by Mr. Seth Hart, who was regarded by the surveying party as their chaplain.
In the beginning of the following year, (1798,) the population had increased to fifteen. No other immigration is recorded until that of Rodolphus Edwards and Nathaniel Doane and their families, in 1799, the latter consisting of nine persons. They journeyed from Chatham, Connecticut, and were occupied ninety-two days in their transit—a longer period than is now allowed to accomplish a voyage to the East Indies.
In 1799, the Land Company caused a road to be surveyed and partially worked, from Cleveland to the Pennsylvania line, about ten miles from the lake, which was the first road opened through the Reserve. In the Spring of that year Wheeler W. Williams, from Norwich, Connecticut, and Major Wyatt, erected a grist mill at the falls at Newburgh, and in 1800 a saw mill was also built by them; a substantial proof that sufficient corn and wheat were grown and lumber required to warrant the speculation.
The desire of moral culture and education did not relax in this lonely region, and in 1800, a township school was organized, and the children were taught by Sarah Doane. The site of the school house was near Kingsbury's, on the ridge road.
Cleveland received two additions in 1800, in the persons of David Clarke and Amos Spafford, the former of whom erected a house on Water street. The first sermon preached in Cleveland, was delivered in that year by the Rev. Joseph Badger, an agent of the Connecticut Missionary Society.
The years of 1798, 1799 and 1800, were remarkable for the early commencement of genial weather. Pinks were in bloom in February, and the peach trees were also in full blossom in March.
In 1801, the first distillery was erected by David Bryant. The memorable 4th of July of the same year was celebrated by the first ball in Cleveland. It took place at Major Carter's log house, on the slope from Superior street to the harbor, and was attended by thirty of both sexes.
The first village school was held in Major Carter's house in 1802, and the children were taught by Anna Spafford.
In 1803, Elisha Norton arrived in Cleveland with a stock of goods principally adapted to the Indian trade, which he exhibited for sale in Major Carter's house. The State of Ohio was this year admitted into the Union, and the first election was held at James Kingsbury's.
The first Post Office was established here in 1804, when letters were received and transmitted every seven days.
In 1805, the harbor was made a port of entry, and classed within the Erie district. In the same year the territory on the west side of Cuyahoga was ceded to the State by treaty. During the negotiations for that treaty, one of the commissioners, Hon. Gideon Granger, distinguished for talents, enterprise and forethought, uttered to his astonished associates this bold, and what was then deemed, extraordinary prediction: "Within fifty years an extensive city will occupy these grounds, and vessels will sail directly from this port into the Atlantic Ocean." The prediction has been fulfilled, though the latter portion of it required an extension of time, of a year or two to make the fulfilment literal.
In 1806, Nathan Perry and family and Judge Walworth removed to Cleveland the latter from Painesville. In the same year the first militia training occurred. The place of rendezvous was Doane's corner, and the muster amounted to about fifty men.
In 1809, the county of Cuyahoga was formed, Cleveland chosen as the county seat, and Amos Spafford was elected representative. The same year Abraham Hickox commenced business as a blacksmith, under the euphonious cognomen of "Uncle Abram."
On the 5th of June, 1810, the first Court of Record was held in a frame building erected by Elias and Harvey Murray, on the north side of Superior Street, of which Judge Ruggles was President, assisted by three Associate Judges. George Wallis and family arrived this year and opened a tavern. Samuel and Matthew Williamson began business as tanners. Dr. David Long commenced practice as a physician, and Alfred Kelley as the first attorney in Cleveland. Elias and Harvey Murray opened a store this year in Union lane, and may be termed the first general merchants.
In 1812, was the first trial for murder and the execution in Cleveland, that of the Indian O'Mic, for the murder of two white trappers near Sandusky City. In the same year the court house was built.
The first brick house erected in the city was that of J. E. and I. Kelley, in Superior Street. It was built in 1814; but the bricks were very unlike those of the present day, being more than twice their size. They were made in Cleveland. This edifice was soon succeeded by another of the same material, built by Alfred Kelley, in Water street.
In 1815, Cleveland was incorporated by the Legislature with a village charter and Alfred Kelley was the first President.
In 1816, the first bank was established in the city, under the title of the Commercial Bank of Lake Erie, of which Leonard Case took the management. In that year the number of vessels enrolled as hailing from the port of Cleveland, was but seven, and their aggregate burthen 430 tons.
In 1817, the first church was organized, which was the Episcopal church of Trinity; but it was not until 1828 that the edifice was erected on the corner of St. Clair and Seneca streets.
On the 31st of July, 1818, the first newspaper was printed in this city, "The Cleveland Gazette and Commercial Register." On the 1st of September in the same year, the first steam vessel entered the harbor, the "Walk-in-the-Water," commanded by Captain Fish, from Buffalo, putting in on its way to Detroit. It was 300 tons burthen, had accommodations for one hundred cabin and a greater number of steerage passengers, and was propelled at eight or ten miles an hour. Its arrival and departure were greeted with several rounds of artillery, and many persons accompanied her to Detroit.
In 1819, Mr. Barber built a log hut on the west side of the harbor, and may be considered the first permanent settler in Ohio City.
In 1830, was established a stage conveyance to Columbus, and in the autumn a second proceeded to Norwalk. In 1821, these efforts were followed by others, and two additional wagons were started, one for Pittsburgh and another for Buffalo.
In 1825, an appropriation was made by Government for the improvement of the harbor, being the first Government aid received for that purpose. The water in the river was frequently so shallow that it was customary for vessels to lie off in the lake and transfer passengers and freight by boats. On the 4th of July in that year ground was broken at Licking Summit for the Ohio canal, to connect the waters of Lake Erie at Cleveland with those of the Ohio river at Portsmouth.
In 1827, Mr. Walworth, the harbor-master and Government agent, proceeded to Washington, and after the most strenuous exertions, succeeded in obtaining a further grant of $10,000 for the improvement of the harbor. In the same year the Ohio canal was opened to Akron, and the first importation of coal to Cleveland made.
In 1828, a new court-house was erected on the Public Square.
The light-house, on the bluff at the end of Water street, was built in 1830, the lantern being one hundred and thirty-five feet above water level.
In 1832, the Ohio canal was finished and communication between the lake and the Ohio river opened. In the same year a new jail was built on Champlain street.
In 1834, some of the streets were graded, and the village assumed such importance that application for a city charter began to be talked of.
The population of the city had grown in 1835 to 5,080, having more than doubled in two years. There was at this time an immense rush of people to the West. Steamers ran from Buffalo to Detroit crowded with passengers at a fare of eight dollars, the number on board what would now be called small boats, sometimes reaching from five hundred to six hundred persons. The line hired steamers and fined them a hundred dollars if the round trip was not made in eight days. The slower boats, not being able to make that time with any certainty, frequently stopped at Cleveland, discharged their passengers, and put back to Buffalo. It sometimes chanced that the shore accommodations were insufficient for the great crowd of emigrants stopping over at this port, and the steamers were hired to lie off the port all night, that the passengers might have sleeping accommodations. In that year fire destroyed a large part of the business portion of Cleveland. At the same period James S. Clark built, at his own expense, the old Columbus street bridge, connecting Cleveland with Brooklyn township, and donated it to the city. Two years later this bridge was the occasion and scene of the famous "battle of the bridge," to be noticed in its proper place.
In 1836, Cleveland was granted a charter as a city. Greatly to the mortification of many of the citizens, the people across the river had received their charter for the organization of Ohio City before that for the city of Cleveland came to hand, and Ohio City, therefore, took precedence on point of age. This tended to embitter the jealous rivalry between the two cities, and it was only after long years that this feeling between the dwellers on the two sides of the river died out.
The settlement on the west side of the river had been made originally by Josiah Barber and Richard Lord. Soon after Alonzo Carter purchased on that side of the river and kept tavern in the "Red House," opposite Superior street. In 1831, the Buffalo Company purchased the Carter farm which covered the low land towards the mouth of the river, and the overlooking bluffs. They covered the low ground with warehouses, and the bluffs with stores and residences. Hotels were erected and preparations made for the building up of a city that should far eclipse the older settlement on the east side of the river. The company excavated a short ship canal from the Cuyahoga to the old river bed, at the east end, and the waters being high, a steamboat passed into the lake, through a natural channel at the west end.
When it was proposed to get a city charter for Cleveland, negotiations were entered into between the leading men on both sides of the river with the purpose of either consolidating the two villages into one city, or at least acting in harmony. The parties could agree neither on terms of consolidation nor on boundaries. The negotiations were broken off, and each side started its deputation to Columbus to procure a city charter, with the result we have already noticed.
Ohio City was ambitions to have a harbor of its own, entirely independent of Cleveland and to the advantages of which that city could lay no claim. The old river bed was to be deepened and the channel to the lake at the west end re-opened. As a preliminary to this ignoring of the Cleveland harbor entrance of the Cuyahoga, a canal was cut through the marsh, from opposite the entrance to the Ohio canal to the old river bed, which was thus to be made the terminus of the Ohio canal.
In 1837, city rivalry ran so high that it resulted in the "battle of the bridge." Both sides claimed jurisdiction over the Columbus street bridge built by Mr. Clark and donated for public use. Armed men turned out on either side to take possession of the disputed structure. A field piece was posted on the low ground on the Cleveland side, to rake the bridge. Guns, pistols, crowbars, clubs and stones were freely used on both sides. Men were wounded of both parties, three of them seriously. The draw was cut away, the middle pier and the western abutment partially blown down, and the field piece spiked by the west siders. But the sheriff and the city marshal of Cleveland appeared on the scene, gained possession of the dilapidated bridge, which had been given to the city of Cleveland, and lodged some of the rioters in thee county jail. This removed the bridge question from the camp and battle-field to the more peaceful locality of the courts.
In 1840, the population had increased to 6071, so that, notwithstanding that the city had been suffering from depression, there was an influx of a thousand persons in the last five years.
In 1841, the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal was completed, Connecting the Ohio Canal at Akron with the Ohio river at Beaver, Pennsylvania, and thus forming a water communication with Pittsburgh.
The United States Marine Hospital, pleasantly situated on the banks of the lake, was commenced in 1844 and not completed until 1852. It is surrounded by eight acres of ground, and is designed to accommodate one hundred and forty patients.
In 1845, the city voted to loan its credit for $200,000 towards the construction of a railroad from Cleveland to Columbus and Cincinnati, and subsequently the credit of the city was pledged for the loan of $100,000 towards the completion of the Cleveland and Erie or Lake Shore line.
In 1851, the 23d of February, the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad was opened for travel; and on the same day forty miles of the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad was likewise completed. These circumstances produced great rejoicings, for during the period of their construction the city had been almost daily adding to the number of its inhabitants, so that it had nearly doubled in the last six years, its population being now 21,140, and in the following year (1852) it added eighty-seven persons per week to its numbers, being then 25,670.
In 1858, the new court house was built and the old court house on the Public Square was taken down.
We have thus glanced at a few of the leading incidents in the history of the city. A more full and exact account will be found in the historical sketches prefacing each department in the body of the work, and still further details will be found in the biographical sketches. There only remains to be added here a few data in regard to the population, government, and officials of the city.
The population of Cleveland commenced in 1796, with four persons. Next year the number increased to fifteen, but in 1800, had fallen back to seven. The subsequent figures are: 1810, 57; 1820, about 150; 1825, about 500; 1830, United States census, 1,075; 1832, about 1,500; 1833, about 1,900; 1834, city census, 6,071, or with Ohio City, 7,648; 1845, 9,573, or with Ohio City, 12,035; 1846, Cleveland 10,135; 1850, United States census, 17,034, or with Ohio City, 20,984; 1851, city census, 21,140; 1852, 25,670; 1860, United States census for combined city, 43,838; 1866, 67,500; 1869, not less than 100,000.
The village of Cleveland was incorporated in 1814, and the first president of the village, elected in 1815, was Alfred Kelley. Twelve votes were cast at the election. In the following year he resigned his position, and his father, Daniel Kelley, was elected by the same number of votes, retaining his position until 1820, when Horace Perry was made president. In the following year he was succeeded by Reuben Wood. From the year 1821 to 1825, Leonard Case was regularly elected president of the corporation, but neglecting to qualify in the latter year, the recorder, E. Waterman, became president, ex-officio. Here the records are defective until the year 1828, when it appears Mr. Waterman received the double office of president and recorder. On account of ill-health he resigned, and on the 30th of May the trustees appointed Oirson Cathan as president. At the annual election in June, 1829, Dr. David Long was elected president, and during his presidency a fire-engine was purchased. Forty-eight votes were cast at this election. For the years 1830 and 1831, Richard Hilliard was president, and for the following year John W. Allen was chosen, and retained the position until 1835, one hundred and six votes being cast at the last named election.
The mayors of Ohio City, up to the time of the consolidation, were as follows; 1836, Josiah Barber; 1837, Francis A. Burrows; 1838-9, Norman C. Baldwin; 1840-41, Needham M. Standart; 1842, Francis A. Burrows; 1843, Richard Lord; 1844-5-6, D. H. Lamb; 1847, David Griffith; 1848, John Beverlin; 1849, Thomas Burnham; 1850-51-52, Benjamin Sheldon; 1853, Wm. B. Castle.
The first mayor of the city of Cleveland was John W. Willey, who held the office for two terms, namely, for the years 1836 and 1837, the term under the old constitution being but for one year. In 1858, the term was extended to two years, Abner C. Brownell being re-elected for the first two-year term. Under that mayoralty the consolidation of the two cities was effected, and the next mayor, according to the understanding, was taken from the late municipality of Ohio City, William B. Castle being elected for the term of 1855-6.
When Cleveland was raised to the dignity of a city, in 1836, it was divided into three wards, each ward represented by three councilmen and one alderman. In 1851, a fourth ward was added, the increased population rendering the re-arrangement necessary. In 1853, under the operation of the new constitution, the aldermen were dispensed with; the wards had previously been restricted to two trustees, or councilmen, each. In 1854, the two cities of Cleveland and Ohio City having been united, the consolidated city was divided into eleven wards. This number remained until 1868, when, by the annexation of additional territory, a re-division was necessitated, and the city districted into fifteen wards.
As an interesting and valuable contribution to the municipal history of the city we give the following complete record of the executive and legislative government of Cleveland since its organization as a city:
1836. Mayor—John W. Willey. President of the Council—Sherlock J. Andrews. Aldermen—Richard Hilliard, Joshua Mills, Nicholas Dockstader. Councilmen—1st Ward—Morris Hepburn, John R. St. John, William V. Craw. 2d Ward—Sherlock J. Andrews, Henry L. Noble, Edward Baldwin. 3d Ward—Aaron T. Strickland, Horace Canfield, Archibald M. C. Smith.
1837. Mayor—John W. Willey. President of the Council—Joshua Mills. Aldermen—Joshua Mills, Nicholas Dockstader, Jonathan Williams. Councilmen—1st Ward—George B. Merwin, Horace Canfield, Alfred Hall. 2d Ward—Edward Baldwin, Samuel Cook, Henry L. Noble. 3d Ward—Samuel Starkweather, Joseph K. Miller, Thomas Colahan.
1838. Mayor—Joshua Mills. President of the Council—Nicholas Dockstader. Aldermen—Nicholas Dockstader, Alfred Hall, Benjamin Harrington. Councilmen—1st Ward—George C. Dodge, Moses A. Eldridge, Herrick Childs. 2d Ward—Benjamin Andrews, Leonard Case, Henry Blair. 3d Ward—Melancthon Barnett, Thomas Colahan, Tom Lemen.
1839. Mayor—Joshua Mills. President of the Council—John A. Foot. Aldermen—Harvey Rice, Edward Baldwin, Richard Hilliard. Councilmen—1st Ward—George Mendenhall, Timothy P. Spencer, Moses Ross. 2d Ward—John A. Foot, Charles M. Giddings, Jefferson Thomas. 3d Ward—Thomas Bolton, Tom Lemen, John A. Vincent.
1840. Mayor—Nicholas Dockstader. President of the Council—William Milford. Aldermen—William Milford, William Lemen, Josiah A. Harris. Councilmen—1st Ward—Ashbel W. Walworth, David Hersch, John Barr. 2d Ward—David Allen, John A. Foot, Thomas M. Kelley. 3d Ward—Stephen Clary, Charles Bardburn, John A. Vincent.
1841. Mayor—John W. Allen. President of the Council—Thomas Bolton. Aldermen—William Milford, Thomas Bolton, Newton E. Crittenden. Councilmen—1st Ward—Nelson Hayward, Herrick Childs, George B. Tibbets. 2d Ward—Moses Kelly, W. J. Warner, M. C. Younglove. 3d Ward—Philo Scovill, Benj. Harrington, Miller M. Spangler.
1842. Mayor—Joshua Mills. President of the Council—Benjamin Harrington. Aldermen—Nelson Hayward, William Smyth, Benjamin Harrington. Councilmen—1st Ward—William D. Nott, Robert Bailey, Henry Morgan. 2d Ward—George Mendenhall, George Witherell, Jefferson Thomas. 3d Ward—William T. Goodwin, George Kirk, Levi Johnson.
1843. Mayor—Nelson Hayward. President of the Council—George A. Benedict. Aldermen—William D. Nott, Samuel Cook, Samuel Starkweather. Councilmen—1st Ward—Robert Bailey, John B. Wigman, James Church, Jr. 2d Ward—Stephen Clary, Alanson H. Lacy, George A. Benedict. 3d Ward—William T. Goodwin, John Wills, Alexander S. Cramer.
1844. Mayor—Samuel Starkweather. President of the Council—Melancthon Barnett. Aldermen—Leander M. Hubby, Stephen Clary, William T. Goodwin. Councilmen—1st Ward—Thomas Mell, George F. Marshall, E. St. John Bemis. 2d Ward—Charles Stetson, Jacob Lowman, John Outhwaite. 3d Ward—William F. Allen, Melancthon Barnett, John F. Warner.
1845. Mayor—Samuel Starkweather. President of the Council—Flavel W. Bingham. Aldermen—Charles W. Heard, George Witherell, L. O. Mathews. Councilmen—1st Ward—Flavel W. Bingham, Peter Caul, Samuel C. Ives. 2d Ward—James Gardner, Ellery G. Williams, David L. Wood. 3d Ward—Arthur Hughes, John A. Wheeler, Orville Gurley.
1846. Mayor—George Hoadley. President of the Council—Leander M. Hubby. Aldermen—Leander M. Hubby, John H. Gorham, Josiah A. Harris. Councilmen—1st Ward—E. St. John Bemis. John F. Chamberlain, John Gill. 2d Ward—William Case, William Bingham, John A. Wheeler. 3d Ward—William K. Adams Marshall Carson, Liakim L. Lyon.
1847. Mayor—Josiah A. Harris. President of the Council—Flavel W. Bingham. Aldermen—Flavel W. Bingham, William Case, Pierre A. Mathivet. Councilmen—1st Ward—David Clark Doan, Henry Everett, John Gill. 2d Ward—John Erwin, Charles Hickox, Henry B. Payne. 3d Ward—Alexander Seymour, Alexander S. Cramer, Orville Gurley.
1848. Mayor—Lorenzo A. Kelsey. President of the Council—Flavel W. Bingham. Aldermen—Flavel W. Bingham, William Case, Alexander Seymour. Councilmen—1st Ward—Richard Norton, John Gill, Charles M. Read. 2d Ward—Henry B. Payne, Leander M. Hubby, Thomas C. Floyd. 3d Ward—Samuel Starkweather, Robert Parks, William J. Gordon.
1849. Mayor—Flavel W. Bingham. President of the Council—William Case. Aldermen—William Case, Alexander Seymour, John Gill. Councilmen—1st Ward—David W. Cross, Richard Norton, Henry Everett. 2d Ward—Alexander McIntosh, John G. Mack, James Calyer. 3d Ward—Arthur Hughes, Abner C. Brownell Christopher Mollen.
1850. Mayor—William Case. President of the Council—Alexander Seymour. Aldermen—Alexander Seymour, John Gill, Leander M. Hubby. Councilmen—1st Ward—William Given, George Whitelaw, Buckley Stedman. 2d Ward—Alexander McIntosh, William Bingham, Samuel Williamson. 3d Ward—Arthur Hughes, Abner C. Brownell, Levi Johnson.
1851. Mayor—William Case. President of the Council—John Gill, Aldermen—John Gill, Leander M. Hubby, Abner C. Brownell, Buckley Stedman. Council-men—1st Ward—Jabez W. Fitch, George Whitelaw. 2d Ward—Alexander McIntosh, Thomas C. Floyd. 3d Ward—Stoughton Bliss, Miller M. Spangler. 4th Ward—Marshall S. Castle, James B. Wilbur.
1853. Mayor—Abner C. Brownell. President of the Council—Leander M, Hubby. Aldermen—John B. Wigman, Leander M. Hubby, Basil L. Spangler, Buckley Stedman. Councilmen—1st Ward—Henry Morgan, Aaron Merchant. 2d Ward—William H. Shell, Robert B. Bailey. 3d Ward—Stoughton Bliss, John B. Smith. 4th Ward—Admiral N. Gray, Henry Howe.
1853. Mayor—Abner C. Brownell. President of the Council—William H. Shell. Trustees—1st Ward—John B, Wigman, George F. Marshall. 2d Ward—William H. Shell, James Gardner. 3d Ward—William J. Gordon, Robert Reilley. 4th Ward—Henry Everett, Richard C. Parsons.
1854. Abner C. Brownell. President of the Council—Richard C. Parsons. Trustees—1st Ward—John B. Wigman, Charles Bradburn. 2d Ward—William H. Sholl, James Gardner. 3d Ward—Christopher Mollen, Robert Reilley. 4th Ward—Henry Everett, Richard C. Parsons. 5th Ward—Chauncey Tice, Mathew S. Cotterell. 6th Ward—Bolivar Butts, John A. Bishop. 7th Ward—W. C. B. Richardson, George W. Morrill. 8th Ward—A. C. Messenger, Charles W. Palmer. 9th Ward—Wells Porter, Albert Powell. 10th Ward—Plimmon C. Bennett, I. U. Masters. 11th Ward—Edward Russell, Frederick Sillbers.
1855. Mayor—William B. Castle. President of the Council—Charles Bradburn. Trustees—1st Ward—Charles Bradburn, E. A. Brock. 2d Ward—William H. Sholl, William T. Smith. 3d Ward—Christopher Mollen, Thomas S. Paddock. 4th Ward—William H. Stanley, Rensselaer R. Horrick. 5th Ward—Chauncey Tice, Irad L. Beardsley. 6th Ward—Bolivar Butts, John A. Bishop. 7th Ward—W. C. B. Richardson, George W. Morrill. 8th Ward—Charles W. Palmer, S. W. Johnson. 9th Ward—Albert Powell, William A. Wood. 10th Ward—I. U. Masters, Charles A. Crum. 11th Ward Edward Russell, S. Buhrer.
1856. Mayor—William B. Castle. President of the Council—Charles W. Palmer. Trustees—1st Ward—E. A. Brock, A. P. Winslow. 2d Ward—Wm. T. Smith, O. M. Oviatt. 8d Ward—T. S. Paddock, C. Mollen. 4th Ward—R. R. Herrick, C. S. Ransom. 5th Ward—C. Tice, F. T. Wallace. 6th Ward—J. A. Bishop, Harvey Rice. 7th Ward—G. W. Morrill, E. S. Willard. 8th Ward—S. W. Johnson, R. G. Hunt. 9th Ward—Sanford J. Lewis, Charles W. Palmer. 10th Ward—Charles A. Crum, I. U. Masters. 11th Ward—S. Buhrer, John Kirkpatrick.
1857. Mayor—Samuel Starkweather. President of the Council—Reuben G. Hunt. Trustees—1st Ward—A. P. Winslow, L. J. Rider. 2d Ward—O. M. Oviatt, Charles D. Williams. 3d Ward—C. Mollen, Charles Patrick 4th Ward—C. S. Ransom, R. R. Herrick. 5th Ward—F. T. Wallace, W. B. Rezner. 6th Ward—Harvey Rice, Jacob Mueller. 7th Ward—E. S. Willard, John A. Weber. 8th Ward—R. G. Hunt, B. G. Sweet. 9th Ward—C. W. Palmer, J. M. Coffinberry. 10th Ward—I. U. Masters, Charles A. Crum. 11th Ward—John Kirkpatrick, Daniel Stephan.
1858. Mayor—Samuel Starkweather. President of the Council—James M. Coffinberry. Trustees—1st Ward—L. J. Rider, George B. Senter. 2d Ward—Chas. D. Williams, O. M. Oviatt. 3d Ward—Levi Johnson, Randall Crawford. 4th Ward—R. R. Herrick, C. S. Ransom. 5th Ward—Wm. B. Rezner, G. H. Detmer. 6th Ward—Jacob Mueller, L. D. Thayer. 7th Ward—J. A. Weber, Thos. Thompson. 8th Ward—B. G. Sweet, Charles Winslow. 9th Ward—J. M. Coffinberry, John N. Ford. 10th Ward—A. G. Hopkinson, I. U. Masters. 11th Ward—Daniel Stephan, Alexander McLane.
1859. Mayor—George B. Senter. President of the Council—I. U. Masters. Trustees—1st Ward—L. J. Rider, James Christian. 2d Ward—O. M. Oviatt, Wm. H. Hayward. 3d Ward—Randall Crawford, Louis Heckman. 4th Ward—C. S. Ransom, Isaac H. Marshall. 5th Ward—G. H. Detmer, Jacob Hovey. 6th Ward—L. C. Thayer, Jared H. Clark. 7th Ward—Thos. Thompson, James R. Worswick. 8th Ward—Charles Winslow, C. L. Russell. 9th Ward—John H. Sargeant, E. H. Lewis. 10th Ward—I. U. Masters, A. G. Hopkinson. 11th Ward—A. McLane, Thomas Dixon.
1860. Mayor—George B. Senter. President of the Council—I. U. Masters Trustees—1st Ward—James Christian, Thomas Quayle. 2d Ward—W. H. Hayward, .M. Oviatt. 3d Ward—Louis Heckman, H. S. Stevens. 4th Ward—I. H. Marshall, E. Thomas. 5th Ward—Jacob Hovey, W. B. Rezner. 6th Ward—Jared H. Clark, C. J. Ballard. 7th. Ward—Jas. R. Worswick, E. S. Willard. 8th Ward—C. L. Russell, J. Dwight Palmer. 9th Ward—E. H. Lewis, Wm. Sabin. 10th Ward—A. G. Hopkinson, I. U. Masters. 11th Ward—Thos. Dixon, Daniel Stephan.
1861. Mayor—Edward S. Flint. President of the Council—Henry S. Stevens. Trustees—1st Ward—Thomas Quayle, J. J. Benton. 2d Ward—O. M. Oviatt, T. N. Bond. 3d Ward—Henry S. Stevens, A. C. Keating. 4th Ward—E. Thomas, Henry Blair. 5th Ward—W. B. Rezner, Joseph Sturges. 6th Ward—C. J. Ballard, William Meyer. 7th Ward—E. S. Willard, P. M. Freese. 8th Ward—J. Dwight Palmer, Solon Corning. 9th Ward—Wm. Sabin, A. Anthony. 10th Ward—I. U. Masters, Wm. Wellhouse. 11th Ward—J. Coonrad, Thos. Dixon.
1862. Mayor—Edward S. Flint. President of the Council—I. U. Masters. Trustees—1st Ward—J. J. Benton, C. C. Rogers. 2d Ward—T. N. Bond. A. Roberts. 3d Ward—A. C. Keating, H. S. Stevens. 4th Ward—Henry Blair, E. Thomas. 5th Ward—Joseph Sturges, N. P. Payne. 6th Ward—Wm. Meyer, Jno. Huntington. 7th Ward—P. M. Freese, E. S. Willard. 8th Ward—Solon Corning, J. Dwight Palmer. 9th Ward—A. Anthony, A. T. Van Tassel. 10th Ward—Wm. Wellhouse, I. U. Masters. 11th Ward—Thos. Dixon, J. Coonrad.
1863. Mayor—Irvine U. Masters. President of the Council—H. S. Stevens. Trustees—1st Ward—C. C. Rogers, Thos. Jones, Jr. 2d Ward—A. Roberts, T. N. Bond. 3d Ward—H. S. Stevens, A. C. Keating. 4th Ward—E. Thomas, Henry Blair. 5th Ward—N. P. Payne, Joseph Sturges. 6th Ward—John Huntington, Geo. W. Gardner. 7th Ward—E. S. Willard, Peter Goldrick. 8th Ward—J. D. Palmer, Jos. Ransom. 9th Ward—A. T. Van Tassel, Percival Upton. 10th Ward—H. N. Bissett, George Presley. 11th Ward—J. Coonrad, Stephen Buhrer.
1864. Mayor—Irvine U. Masters. Mayor—George B. Senter, President of the Council—Thomas Jones, Jr. Trustees—1st Ward—Thomas Jones, Jr., Chas. C. Rogers. 2d Ward—T. N. Bond, Ansel Roberts. 3d Ward—A. C. Keating, Amos Townsend. 4th Ward—Henry Blair, David A. Dangler. 5th Ward—Joseph Sturges, B. P. Bowers. 6th Ward—George W. Gardner, John Huntington. 7th Ward—Peter Goldrick, E. S. Willard. 8th Ward—Joseph Randerson, Wm. H. Truscott. 9th Ward—Percival Upton, John Martin. 10th Ward—George Presley, Michael Crapser. 11th Ward—Stephen Buhrer, Edward Russell.
1865. Mayor—Herman M. Chapin. President of the Council—Thomas Jones, Jr. Trustees—1st Ward—Charles C. Rogers, Thomas Jones, Jr. 2d Ward—Ansel Roberts, Henry K. Raynolds. 3d Ward—Amos Townsend, Randall Crawford. 4th Ward—David A Dangler, Simson Thorman. 5th Ward—B. P. Bower, Joseph Sturges. 6th Ward—John Huntington, George W. Calkins. 7th Ward—E. S. Willard, Charles Pettingill. 8th Ward—William H. Truscott, Joseph Randerson. 9th Ward—John Martin, Fredrick W. Pelton. 10th Ward—John J. Weideman, George Presley. 11th Ward—Edward Russell, Stephen Buhrer.
1866. Mayor—Herman M. Chapin. President of the Council—P. W. Pelton. Trustees—1st Ward—Thos. Jones, Jr., Charles C. Rogers. 2d Ward—H. K. Raynolds, Ansel Roberts. 3d Ward—Randall Crawford, Amos Townsend. 4th Ward—Simson Thorman, Maurice H. Clark. 5th Ward—Joseph Sturges, Wm. Heisley. 6th Ward—George W. Calkins, John Huntington. 7th Ward—Charles B. Pettingill, Christopher Weigel. 8th Ward—Joseph Randerson, William H. Trascott. 9th Ward—Frederick W. Pelton, John Martin. 10th Ward—George Presley, Reuben H. Becker. 11th Ward—Stephen Buhrer, Robert Larnder.
1867. Mayor—Stephen Buhrer. President of the Council—Amos Townsend. Trustees—1st Ward—Charles C. Rogers, Silas Merchant. 2d Ward—Ansel Roberts, Peter Diemer. 3d Ward—Amos Townsend, J. C. Shields. 4th Ward—Maurice B. Clark, Proctor Thayer. 5th Ward—William Heisley, Thomas Purcell. 6th Ward—John Huntington, Edward Hart. 7th Ward—Christopher Weigel, Charles B. Pettingill. 8th Ward—William H. Truscott, Joseph Houstain. 9th Ward—John Martin, F. W. Pelton. 10th Ward—Reuben H. Becker, William Wellhouse. 11th Ward—Robert Larnder, Charles E. Gehring.
1868. Mayor—Stephen Buhrer. President of the Council—Amos Townsend. Trustees—1st Ward—Silas Merchant, C. C. Rogers. 2d Ward—Peter Diemer, H. G. Cleveland. 3d Ward—J. C. Shields, Amos Townsend. 4th Ward—Proctor Thayer, Maurice B. Clark. 5th Ward—Thos. Purcell, Nathan P. Payne. 6th Ward—Edwin Hart, John Huntington. 7th Ward—Charles B. Pettingill, George Angell. 8th Ward—Joseph Houstain, Patrick Carr. 9th Ward—F. W. Pelton, John Martin. 10th Ward—William Wellhouse, John J. Weideman 11th Ward —Charles E. Gehring, George L. Hurtnell. 13th Ward—E. C. Gaeckley, Benj. R. Beavis. 13th Ward—George Rettberg, Major Collins. 14th Ward—John Jokus, A. E. Massey. 15th Ward—B. Lied, John A. Ensign.
1869. Mayor—Stephen Buhrer. President of the Council—Amos Townsend. Trustee—1st Ward—C. C. Rogers, Silas Merchant. 2d Ward—H. G. Cleveland, Peter Diemer. 3d Ward—Amos Townsend, Charles Coates. 4th Ward—R. R. Herrick, Proctor Thayer. 5th Ward—Nathan P. Payne, Thomas Purcell. 6th Ward—John Huntington, W. P. Horton. 7th Ward—George Angell, Horace Fuller. 8th Ward—Patrick Carr, Patrick Smith. 9th Ward—John Martin, L. L. M. Coe. 10th Ward—John J. Weideman, Wm. Wellhouse. 11th Ward—George L. Hartnell, John G. Vetter. 12th Ward—Benj. R. Beavis, Eugene C. Gaeckley. 13th Ward—Major Collins, J. H. Slosson. 14th Ward—A. E. Massey, A. A. Jewett, 15th Ward—John A. Ensign, C. W. Coates.
Trade and Commerce.
The commercial history of the early years of Cleveland does not differ from that of most western settlements. When the white population numbered from a few dozen to a few hundred, it is difficult to define what was commerce and what mere barter for individual accommodation. Every man did a little trading on his own account. The carpenter, the tailor, the judge and the preacher were alike ready to vary their customary occupations by a dicker whenever an opportunity offered. The craftsman purchased what necessities or comforts he needed, and paid in the work of his hands. The possessor of one article of daily use traded his superfluity for another article, and for all articles furs and skins were legal tender, as they could be sent east and converted into money or merchandise.
The first strictly commercial transactions were with the Indians. They needed powder and lead for hunting, blankets for their comfort, beads for the adornment of the squaws, and the two great luxuries—or necessities—of frontier life, salt and whisky. In payment for these they brought game, to supply the settlers with fresh provisions, and skins, the currency of the West. In course of time the opening up of the country beyond made a new market for the salt, whisky, and salt provisions collected at Cleveland, and with these staples went occasionally a few articles of eastern made goods for the use of the frontiermen's wives. As the country became more settled the commercial importance of Cleveland increased, until it divided with Detroit and Buffalo the honors and profits of the commerce of the lakes.
Cleveland was settled in 1796. PFiveyears later the first commercial movement was made by the erection of a distillery for the purpose of providing an adequate supply of the basis of early western commerce—whisky. The trade operations were of a promiscuous and desultory character until about the year 1810, when a log warehouse was built by Major Carter, on the bank of the lake, between Meadow and Spring streets, and this was speedily followed by another, built by Elias and Harvey Murray, which became the centre of business and gossip for the village and the country round about. Of course a full supply of the great staple—whisky—was kept.
In 1813 Cleveland became a lively and prosperous place, it having been chosen as a depot of supplies and rendezvous for troops engaged in the war. A good business was done in selling to the army, in exchanging with the quartermasters, and in transporting troops and supplies. This was a flourishing time for Cleveland, and its inhabitants in many cases made small fortunes, realizing several hundred dollars in hard cash.
The close of the war brought the usual reaction, and the commerce of the embryo city lagged, but gradually improved under the stimulus of increasing emigration to the West. In 1816 it had reached such a point that a bank was deemed necessary to the proper transaction of trade, and the Commercial Bank of Lake Erie was opened, with Leonard Case as president. It had the misfortune of being born too soon, and its life consequently was not long. At the same time, the projectors of the bank were not wholly without warrant for their anticipations of success, for Cleveland was doing a good business and owned an extensive lake marine of seven craft, measuring in the aggregate four hundred and thirty tons.
The harbor facilities of Cleveland at this time were very few. The river mouth, to the westward of the present entrance, was frequently choked with sand, and sometimes to such an extent that persons could cross dry shod. Vessels of any considerable size—and a size then called "considerable" would now be held in very slight estimation—made no attempt to enter the river, but came to anchor outside, and were unloaded by lighters. In 1807 a scheme was set on foot for opening a line of communication for trading purposes between Lake Erie and the Ohio river, by cleaning out the channels of the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas riverspretentiousssage of boats and batteaux; a wagon road, seven miles long, from Old Portage to New Portage, making the connection between the two rivers. It was supposed that twelve thousand dollars would suffice for the purpose, and the Legislature authorized a lottery by which the funds were to be raised. There were to be twelve thousand eight hundred tickets at five dollars each, with prizes aggregating sixty-four thousand dollars, from which a deduction of twelve and a half per cent, was to be made. The drawing never came off, and the money paid for the tickets was refunded some years afterwards, without interest. In 1816 an attempt was made to improve the entrance to the harbor by means of a pier into the lake. A company was organized for the purpose, a charter obtained from the Legislature, and something done towards building the pier, but the storms soon washed the slight construction away.
Ten years later, the work of improving the harbor under the direction of the National Government was begun, the first appropriation being of five thousand dollars. A new channel was cut, piers commenced, and the work entered upon which has been carried on with varying energy to the present time. The opening of the river gave considerable impetus to the commerce of the place, which was then carried on wholly by lake.
The opening of the Ohio canal was the first grand starting point in the commercial history of Cleveland. It brought into connection with the lake highway to market a rich country rapidly filling up with industrious settlers, and the products of dairies, grain farms, and grazing lands were brought in great quantity to Cleveland, where they were exchanged for New York State salt, lake fish, and eastern merchandise. Two years after the opening of the canal, which was completed in 1832, the receipts amounted to over half a million bushels of wheat, a hundred thousand barrels of flour, a million pounds of butter and nearly seventy thousand pounds of cheese, with other articles in proportion. Business went on increasing with great rapidity; every one was getting rich, in pocket or on paper, and Cleveland was racing with its then rival, but now a part of itself, Ohio City, for the distinction of being the great commercial centre of the West. At that moment, in the year 1837, the great crash came and business of all kinds was paralyzed.
Cleveland was one of the first places in the West to recover. Its basis was good, and as the interior of Ohio became more peopled the trade of the canal increased and, of course, Cleveland was so much the more benefited. The opening of the Pennsylvania and Ohio canal, in 1841, opened communication with Pittsburgh and added a trade in iron, nails, and glass to the other branches of business. In 1844 the commerce of Cleveland by lake had reached an aggregate of twenty millions for the year.
The opening of the railroad to Columbus in 1851 marked the second step in the business history of the city. The canals brought business from the south-east, and by a slow and uncertain route from Cincinnati. The completion of the railroad gave direct and speedy connection with Cincinnati, with the rich valleys of the Miami, and with lands hitherto undeveloped or seeking other markets for their produce. Other railroads were rapidly built, and developed new avenues of commerce and new sources of wealth. The population increased rapidly. The streets were extended and lined with new buildings. Additional stores were opened and all departments felt the rush of new life. The lake commerce of the port, in spite of the business drawn off by competing railroads, increased in 1853 to a total of eighty-seven million dollars, more than four times the amount reached nine years before, after the canal System had been completed and was in full operation. The grain trade which once was the foundation of the commerce of the city, had fallen away owing the gradual removal of the wheat producing territory westward. It was asserted, and generally believed, that the canals had done all they could for the prosperity of the city, and that unless something new turned up for its benefit, Cleveland would remain at a stand-still, or increase only by very slow degrees. Business was extremely dull, the prospect looked dubious, many business men moved to other cities and more were preparing to follow. Just then two things occurred. The war broke out, and the Atlantic and Great Western railway was extended to Cleveland. The latter event opened a new market for trade in north-western Pennsylvania, and soon after, by sending a large proportion of the product of the oil regions to this point for refining or shipment, built up an immense and lucrative department of manufacture and commerce, whose effect was felt in all classes of business. The war stimulated manufactures, and by a sudden bound Cleveland set out on the path of permanent prosperity long pointed out by some far-seeing men, but until the time referred to strangely neglected. In a very few years the population more than doubled the existing facilities for business were found totally inadequate for the suddenly increased demands, and the most strenuous exertions of the builders failed to meet the call for new stores. Manufactory after manufactory came into existence, and with each there was an influx of population and a consequent increase in all departments of trade. And the work still goes on, every manufactory started creating some need hitherto unfelt, and thus rendering other manufactories necessary to supply the need.
A careful census of population and business, made towards the close of 1868, in compliance with a request from one department of the Government at Washington, showed that the population had increased to ninety thousand; the value of real estate was valued at fifty millions of dollars, and of personal property at thirty millions. The commerce, including receipts and shipments by lake, canal, and railroad, was taken at eight hundred and sixty-five millions of dollars; the value of manufactures for the year at nearly fifty millions; the lake arrivals and clearances at ten thousand, with an aggregate tonnage of over three millions of tons; and the number of vessels and canal boats owned here at nearly four hundred. Seventy years ago Major Carter resided here in lonely state with his family, being the only white family in the limits of what is now the city of Cleveland. The cash value of the entire trade of Cleveland at that time would not pay a very cheap clerk's salary now-a-days.
The biography of Levi Johnson is, in effect, the history of Cleveland, and a sketch of the more active period of his life involves the narrative of life in Cleveland during the earlier years of its existence. It is, therefore, of more than ordinary interest.
Mr. Johnson is a native of Herkimer county, New York, having been born in that county April 25th, 1786. He commenced life in a time and place that admitted of no idlers, young or old, and in his tenth year it was his weekly task to make and dip out a barrel of potash, he being too young to be employed with the others in wood-chopping. Until his fourteenth year he lived with an uncle, working on a farm, and laboring hard. At that age he determined to be a carpenter and joiner, and entered the shop of Ephraim Derrick, with whom he remained four years. At eighteen, he changed masters and worked with Laflet Remington, and at twenty-one changed again to Stephen Remington, with whom he worked at barn building one year.
It was whilst he was with Stephen Remington that an event occurred that shaped Levi Johnson's future life. Considerable interest had been excited in regard to Ohio, towards which emigrants were frequently seen taking their way. A brother of Stephen Remington was sent west to spy out the land and report on its desirableness as a home. This committee of one, on lands, came to Newburgh, and was so strongly impressed with the advantages of the place from which Cleveland was afterwards said to be but six miles distant, that he allowed his imagination to run away with his veracity. He wrote back that he had struck the richest country in the world; that the soil was marvelously fertile, and that corn grew so tall and strong that the raccoons ran up the stems and lodged on the ears out of the way of the dogs. Great was the excitement in Herkimer county when this report was received. Such wonderful growth of corn was never known in York State, but Ohio was a terra incognita, and Munchausen himself would have had a chance of being believed had he located his adventures in what was then the Far West. Stephen Remington quit barn-building, shut up his shop, packed up his tools and started in the Fall of 1807 for the new Eden, on Lake Erie. In the succeeding Spring, Johnson followed in his footsteps as far as East Bloomfield, near Canandaigua, where he worked during that Summer, building a meeting-house.
In the Fall of 1808, he shouldered his pack and set out on foot for the West. At Buffalo he found work and wintered there until February, when his uncle came along, bound also for the land of promise. There was room in the sleigh for Levi, and he was not loth to avail himself of the opportunity of making his journey quicker and easier than on foot. On the 10th of March, 1809, the sleigh and its load entered Cleveland.
By that time it had come to be hard sledding, so the sleigh was abandoned and the two travelers, determining to put farther west, mounted the horses and continued their journey to Huron county. Here they fell in with Judge Wright and Ruggles, who were surveying the Fire Lands. They wanted a saw-mill, and Johnson's uncle contracted to build one at the town of Jessup, now known as Wakeman. Levi turned back to Cleveland, and was fortunate in finding a home in the family of Judge Walworth. The Judge wanted an office built, and Johnson undertook to make it. Hitherto, all the houses were of logs; but the Judge, having a carpenter boarding in his family, aspired to something more pretentions. The building was to be frame. At that time Euclid was a flourishing settlement, and rejoiced in that important feature—a saw-mill. The lumber was brought from Euclid, the frame set up on Superior street, about where the American House now stands, and every day the gossips of the little settlement gathered to watch and discuss the progress of the first frame building in Cleveland. The work occupied forty days, and when it was completed, there was great pride in this new feature of Cleveland architecture. The erection of the first frame building marked the commencement of a new era.
That job done, Levi turned back to Huron to fulfill the contract made by his uncle for the erection of a saw-mill. This was a heavy job for so small a force, and between three and four months were spent in it. Slinging his kit of tools on his back, he then turned once more towards Cleveland, in which he settled down for the remainder of his life, the next two or three years being spent in building houses and barns in Cleveland, and in the more flourishing village of Newburgh. A saw-mill also was put up on Tinker's creek.
When Mr. Johnson was building the saw-mill at Jessup, he fell in with a young lady, Miss Montier, who enjoyed the distinction of being the first white girl that landed in Huron, where she lived with a family named Hawley. The young carpenter fell in love with the only pretty girl to be found in the neighborhood, and she was not unkindly disposed to the young man. When he returned to Cleveland she was induced to come also, and lived with Judge Walworth, at that time the great landed owner, and consequently prominent man in the thriving village of sixty inhabitants. In 1811, the couple were married.
In the Fall of 1812, Johnson made a contract with the County Commissioners, Messrs. Wright, Ruggles and Miles, to build a Court House and Jail on the Public Square, opposite where the First Presbyterian Church now stands. The material was to be logs, laid end-wise for greater security. The work was pushed forward rapidly the next Summer, and towards noon of September 12th, Johnson and his men were just putting the finishing touches to the building, when they were startled by what seemed the roar of distant thunder. On looking out of the windows not a cloud could be seen in the sky, but the reverberations continued, and at once the conviction that the noise was of cannons seized them. Throwing down their tools they ran to the bank of the lake, where nearly all the villagers at home to the number of about thirty, were already gathered, stretching their eyes to the westward, whence the sounds came. Now the reports of the cannon could be plainly distinguished. They knew that Perry's fleet had passed up the lake, and that, consequently, a battle could be at any moment expected. The louder reports told when the Americans fired, for their guns were of heavier caliber than the English. At last the firing ceased for a while. Then three loud reports, evidently American, were heard, and the little crowd, convinced that their side had won, gave three hearty cheers for Perry.
About two days afterwards, Johnson and a man named Rumidge picked up a large flat-boat that had been built by General Jessup for the conveyance of troops, and then abandoned. Each of the finders purchased a hundred bushels of potatoes, took them to the army at Put-in-Bay, quadrupling the money invested, and giving Johnson his first financial start in life.
As General Jessup needed the boat to transfer his troops to Malden, he retained it, taking Rumidge also into service, and leaving Johnson to return to Cleveland on the gunboat Somers, of which he was made pilot for the voyage. Shortly afterwards Rumidge returned with the boat and brought news that the American forces had fought a battle with the British at Moravian Town. Johnson resumed command of the flat-boat, and with his associate freighted it with supplies for the army at Detroit. The speculation was successful, and Johnson engaged with the quartermaster of the post to bring a cargo of clothing from Cleveland to Detroit. The season was far advanced, and the voyage was cut short by the ice in the upper part of the lake, so that the boat was headed for Huron, where the cargo was landed and the freight for that distance paid.
Johnson was now a man of means, the successful transactions with the army having given him more money than he had ever possessed at one time before. His voyages and trading success had given him a taste for similar occupations in the future, and his first step was to build a vessel for himself. His first essay in ship-building was something novel. The keel was laid for a ship of thirty-five tons, to be named the Pilot. There was no iron for spikes, but wooden pins supplied their place. Other devices of similar primitiveness were resorted to in the course of the work, and at last she was finished. Now came the question of launching, and it was not lightly to be answered. Modern builders sometimes meet with a difficulty owing to the ship sticking on the "ways," but this early ship-builder of Cleveland had a greater obstacle than this to overcome. He had built his ship with very slight reference to the lake on which she was to float. For convenience in getting timber, and other reasons, he had made his ship-yard about half a mile from the water, near where St. Paul's Church now stands on Euclid avenue, and the greasing of the "ways" and knocking out of the blocks would not ensure a successful launch. Here was a dilemma. Johnson pondered and then resolved. An appeal for aid was promptly responded to. The farmers from Euclid and Newburgh came in with twenty-eight yoke of cattle. The ship was hoisted on wheels and drawn in triumph down the main street to the foot of Superior street hill, where she was launched into the river amid the cheers of the assembled crowd.
This was not the first of Cleveland ship-building. About the year 1808, Major Carter built the Zephyr, used in bringing goods, salt, &c., from Buffalo. After good service she was laid up in a creek, a little below Black Rock, where she was found by the British during the war and burned. In 1810, the firm of Bixby & Murray built the Ohio, an important craft of somewhere about sixty tons burden, the ship-yard being lower down the river than the point from which Johnson's craft was subsequently launched. Towards the close of the war she was laid up at Buffalo, when the Government purchased her, cut her down, and converted her into a pilot boat.
Whilst Johnson was building his vessel another was under construction on the flats near the present location of the works of J. G. Hussey & Co. This craft, the Lady of the Lake, about thirty tons, was built by Mr. Gaylord, brother of the late Mrs. Leonard Case, and was sailed by Captain Stowe, between Detroit and Buffalo.
Johnson was now literally embarked on a sea of success. His little ship was in immediate requisition for army purposes. Cargoes of army stores were transported between Buffalo and Detroit. Two loads of soldiers were taken from Buffalo to the command of Major Camp, at Detroit, and on one of the return voyages the guns left by Harrison at Maumee were taken to Erie. The absconding of a quarter-master with the funds in his possession, among other sums three hundred dollars belonging to Johnson, was a serious drawback in the Summer's operations.
In the Spring of 1815, he recommenced carrying stores to Malden, reaching there on his first trip March 20th, and on this voyage Irad Kelley was a passenger. His second trip was made to Detroit. When passing Malden he was hailed from the fort, but as he paid no attention, Major Putoff fired a shot to make the vessel heave-to and leave the mail. The shot passed through the foresail, but was not heeded. A second shot was fired and then Johnson considered it prudent to heave-to and go ashore. He was sternly questioned as to his inattention to the first orders to heave to, and replied that being a young sailor he did not understand how to heave-to. The officer told him to bring the mail ashore, but was met with a refusal, it being contrary to instructions. Johnson started back to his craft and was followed by a party of men from the fort, who manned a boat and gave chase. Johnson, on boarding his vessel, spread sail, and being favored with a good breeze, drew away from his pursuers and reached Detroit, where he placed the mail in the post-office.
During the early part of the war, whilst Johnson was building his vessel and in other ways kept busy, he was chosen coroner of Cuyahoga, being the first to hold that office in the county. The sparseness of the population rendered his duties light, the only inquest during his term of office being over the body of an old man frozen to death in Euclid.
Samuel Baldwin was the first sheriff of the county, and Johnson was his first deputy. His first experience in office was noticeable. Major Jessup, in command of the troops, had brought to Cleveland from Pittsburgh a Mr. Robins, who built from thirty to forty flat bottomed boats, or batteaux, to be used in the transportation of the troops. The Major ran short of funds and left a balance unpaid in the cost of construction. Robins brought suit, and the Major, thinking the deputy sheriff probably had some unpleasant business for him, studiously avoided an interview with Johnson, and whenever they met by chance, pulled out his pistols and warned Johnson to keep his distance. It so happened, however, that no legal documents had been put in his hands for execution, so that the Major was alarmed without cause.
But the groundless scare of the impecunious Major was a trifling affair compared with the grand scare that overtook the whole people along the lake in the autumn of 1812, at the time of Hull's surrender One day a fleet of vessels was seen bearing down upon the coast. It was first noticed in the vicinity of Huron by a woman. No sooner had she seen the vessels bearing down towards the coast from the westward, than she rushed into the house, emptied her feather bed and placed the tick on a horse as a pack-saddle; then catching up one child before her and another behind, she rode at the top of the animal's speed, thinking torture and death lay behind her. Whenever she passed a house she raised an alarm, and at two o'clock in the morning, more dead than alive with terror and fatigue, she urged her jaded horse into the village of Cleveland, screaming at the top of her voice, "The British and Indians are coming! The British and Indians are coming!" Men slept lightly at that time, with their senses attent to every sound of danger. The shrieks of the woman and the dreaded notice of the approach of the merciless foe awoke the whole village and curdled the blood of the villagers with horror. In that brief announcement, "The British and Indians are coming," were concentrated possibilities of frightful outrage, carnage and devastation. Wild with the terror of her long and agonized night ride, the woman reiterated her piercing warning again and again, filling the air with her shouts. A chorus of voices, from the childish treble to the deep bass of the men, swelled the volume of sound and added to the confusion and alarm. In a few minutes every house was empty, and the entire population of the village swarmed around the exhausted woman and heard her brief story, broken by gasps for breath and by hysterical sobs. She insisted that a fleet was bearing down upon the coast with the purpose of spreading carnage and devastation along the whole lake frontier, that the vessels were crowded with British troops and merciless savages, and that before long the musket bail, the torch and the scalping knife would seek their victims among the inhabitants of Cleveland.
At once all was hurry; the entire population prepared for speedy flight. The greater part took to the woods in the direction of Euclid, the women and children being guarded by some of the men, the others remaining to reconnoiter, and, if possible, defend their property. As soon as the non-fighting portion of the settlement was cared for, a picked force of twenty-five men, contributed by Cleveland, Euclid and Newburgh, marched to the mouth of the river and kept guard. It was evening when this little army reached the river, and for hours after dark they patrolled the banks, listening intently for the approach of the enemy. About two o'clock in the morning a vessel was heard entering the river; the guards hastily gathered for the attack, but before firing, hailed the supposed foe; an answering hail was returned. "Who are you, and what have you on board?" shouted the river guards. "An American vessel loaded with Hull's troops!" was the reply. The astounded guard burst into laughter at their absurd scare. The alarm spread with greater swiftness than the report of the facts, and for days armed men came pouring into Cleveland from so far as Pittsburgh, prepared to beat back the enemy that existed only in their imagination.
It was during this year that the Indian, Omic, was hung for participating in the murder of the trappers, Gibbs and Wood, near Sandusky, in return for the shelter given by the trappers to their two murderers. After committing the murder, the Indians set fire to the hut, and the flames became the instrument of their capture, for some boys returning from Cold Creek Mill saw the fire, went to it, and discovered the partly consumed bodies of the murdered men. The murderers were demanded from the Indians, and Omic was captured by them and surrendered.
The prisoner was lodged in Major Carter's house until the trial which was held under a cherry tree at the corner of Water and Superior streets. Alfred Kelly prosecuted for the State, and Johnson was one of the jury. Omic was convicted and sentenced to be hung. Johnson, who sat on the jury that condemned him, was now employed to build the gallows to hang the criminal. When Omic was led out by Sheriff Baldwin to execution, he remarked that the gallows was too high. He then called for whisky and drank half a pint, which loosened his tongue, and he talked rapidly and incoherently, threatening to return in two days and wreak his revenge on all the pale-faces. More liquor was given him, and he asked for more, but Judge Walworth denounced the giving him more, that he might die drunk, as an outrage, and his supply of liquor was therefore stopped.
Time being up, Sheriff Baldwin was about to cut the drop-rope, when he saw that the condemned man had clutched the rope over his head to save his neck from being broken. The Sheriff dismounted from his horse, climbed up the gallows and tied the prisoner's hands more firmly behind his back. The gallows was braced, and Omic contrived to clutch one of the braces with his hands, fastened behind his back as they were, as he fell when the drop-rope was cut. He hung in that position for some time, until his strength gave way and he swung off. When he had hung sufficiently long, the by-standers drew him to the cross-beam of the gallows, when the rope broke and the body of the wretched murderer fell into his open grave beneath.
In the same year Mr. Johnson was path-master of Cleveland, and he retains in his possession the list of names of those who did work on the roads in that year, armed with good and sufficient shovels according to law.
Mr. Johnson's success as a ship-builder encouraged him to persevere in that business. In the autumn of 1815, he laid down the lines of the schooner Neptune, sixty-five tons burden, not far below the neighborhood of the Central market. In the following Spring she was launched, and run on Lake Erie, her first trip being to Buffalo, whence she returned with a cargo of merchandise for Jonathan Williamson, of Detroit. In the Fall of that year a half interest in the Neptune was sold to Richard H. Blinn, Seth Doan, and Dr. Long. In 1817, she made a trip to Mackinac, for the American Fur Company, and remained in that trade until the Fall of 1819.
In the Summer of 1818, Major Edwards, Paymaster Smith, and another army officer came to Mackinac on the Tiger, and engaged Mr. Johnson to take them to Green Bay, agreeing to pay him three hundred dollars for the trip. The same vessel, under Johnson's command, took the first load of troops from Green Bay to Chicago, after the massacre, Major Whistler engaging the ship for the purpose.
In 1824, Johnson left the Neptune, and in company with Turhooven & Brothers, built the steamer Enterprise, about two hundred and twenty tons burden. This was the first steam vessel built in Cleveland, and her hull was made near the site of the Winslow warehouse. The engine, of sixty to seventy horse power, was brought from Pittsburgh. Johnson ran her between Buffalo and Detroit until 1828, when hard times coming on and business threatening to be unprofitable, he sold his interest in her, and left the lakes. In company with Goodman and Wilkeson, he built the Commodore, on the Chagrin river, in the year 1830, and that closed his ship-building career.
By this time he had accumulated about thirty thousand dollars, a respectable fortune in those days, with which he invested largely in real estate, and waited the course of events to make his investments profitable.
In 1831, he contracted with the Government officers to build the light-house on Water street. In 1836, he built a light-house at Sandusky. In the following year he constructed seven hundred feet of the stone pier on the east side of the Cuyahoga river mouth. The first thing done in the latter work was the driving of spiles. Mr. Johnson became dissatisfied with the old system of driving spiles by horse-power, and purchased a steam engine for four hundred dollars. Making a large wooden wheel he rigged it after the style of the present spile-drivers, and in the course of two or three weeks, had the satisfaction of seeing the spiles driven with greatly increased speed and effect by steam-power.
About 1839, he took his new spile-driver to Maumee Bay and drove about nine hundred feet of spiling around Turtle Island, filling the enclosed space with earth to the height of three feet, to protect the light-house. In 1840, he built the Saginaw light-house, sixty-five feet high, with the adjoining dwelling. In 1842-3, he built the light-house on the Western Sister Island, at the west end of Lake Erie. In 1847, he completed his light-house work by building the Portage River light-house.
Besides his light-house building, Mr. Johnson erected in 1842 his stone residence on Water street, and in 1845, the Johnson House hotel on Superior street. The stone for the former was brought from Kingston, Canada West. In 1853, he built the Johnson Block, on Bank street, and in 1858, he put up the Marine Block at the mouth of the river. This completed his active work.
Since 1858, Mr. Johnson's sole occupation has been the care of his property and occasional speculations in real estate. By a long life of activity and prudence, and by the steady rise in real estate, he is now possessed of personal and landed property to the value of about six hundred thousand dollars, having come to the city with no other capital than his kit of tools, a strong arm, and an energetic purpose. Though eighty-three years of age, his health is good, his memory remarkably active, and all his faculties unimpaired. He has two sons and one daughter yet living, having lost two children. He has had nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Noble H. Merwin.
In classifying the early commercial men of Cleveland, the name of Noble H. Merwin is justly entitled to stand among the first on the list. In fact he was the founder and father of her commerce, and a man not only noble in name, but noble in character.
He was born in New Milford, Ct., in 1782, received a good common school education, and married Minerva Buckingham, of that town. Soon after the war of 1812, he went to Georgia and there engaged in mercantile pursuits, having established a store at Savannah and also at Milledgeville. He came to Cleveland in 1815. His family rejoined him at Cleveland in February, 1816. In coming from Georgia they crossed the Alleghanies, and were six weeks in accomplishing the journey, having traveled all the way in wagons. The two elder children were born at New Milford, the other four at Cleveland. The oldest son, George B. Merwin, of Rockport, is now the only surviving member of the family.
After the family arrived at Cleveland, Mr. Merwin engaged in keeping a public house or tavern, as it was then designated, on the corner of Superior street and Vineyard lane, and about the same time established a warehouse at the foot of Superior street and commenced his career in the commerce of the lakes. He built the schooner Minerva, which was the first vessel registered at Washington, from the District of Cuyahoga, under the U. S. Revenue Laws. For many years Mr. Merwin, under contracts with the Government, furnished the supplies required at the U. S. Garrisons on the western frontiers, at Fort Gratiot, Mackinaw, Sault St. Marie, Green Bay and Chicago, as well as the Hudson Bay Company at the Sault St. Marie.
In a commercial point of view his business became extensive for those times, and he enjoyed the entire confidence of the Government and of business men generally throughout the lake country. He succeeded in accumulating a handsome fortune, which consisted mostly in vessel stocks and in lands. He owned a large breadth of lands, extending from the south side of Superior street to the river, which, since his time, has become exceedingly valuable.
But owing mainly to over-work in the various departments of his increasing business, while he was yet in the noon of manhood, his health became seriously impaired, and with a view to recruit it he sailed for the West Indies in 1829, and on the 3d day of November, of that year, died of consumption, at the Island of St. Thomas, in the 47th year of his age. He was a gentleman of fine personal appearance, measuring six feet and four inches in height, erect and well proportioned. In a word, he was a man of heart, and of generous impulses, honest, frank and cordial. In the circle in winch he moved, he was the friend of everybody and everybody was his friend.
The race of men who remember Cleveland in the day of its small beginnings, is fast passing away. Of those who were residents of the little village on the Cuyahoga fifty years ago, only about half a dozen now live in the flourishing city that occupies its site and inherits its name. One of these is John Blair, well known to all the Clevelanders of ante-railroad days, but who is probably a mere name to a large proportion of those who have crowded into the city of late years. Mr. Blair is one of the few remaining links that connect the rude village in the forest with the modern Forest City.
John Blair was born in Maryland on the 18th of December, 1793. His early years were spent in farming, but at the age of twenty-three he dropped the hoe and turned his back to the plow, resolving to come west and seek his fortune. From the time that he shook from his feet the dirt of the Maryland farm, he says, he has never done a whole day's work, at one time, at manual labor.
In 1819, he reached Cleveland, then an insignificant village of about a hundred and fifty inhabitants, who dwelt mostly in log houses, grouped at the foot of Superior street. At the corner of Water street and what is now Union lane, stood the pioneer hotel of Cleveland, the tavern of Major Carter, where good accommodations for man and beast were always to be found. The young Maryland adventurer was not overburdened with wealth when he landed in his future home, his entire cash capital being three dollars. But it was no discredit in those days to be poor, and three dollars was a fine capital to start business upon. In fact sonic of the then "old settlers," would have been glad to possess so much capital in ready money as a reserve fund.
But even in those days of primitive simplicity, three dollars would not support a man for any great length of time if there were no other sources of supply. Mr. Blair recognized the fact that no time must be wasted, and at once turned his attention to a chance for speculation. An opportunity immediately offered itself. An old Quaker, with speculation in his eye, entered Cleveland with two hundred and fifty fat hogs, expecting to find a good market. In this he was mistaken, and as hogs on foot were expensive to hold over for a better market, he determined to convert them into salt pork. Mr. Blair offered to turn pork-packer for a proper consideration; the offer was accepted, and this was Mr. Blair's first step in business.
Pork-packing, as a steady business, offered but little inducement, so Mr. Blair decided on establishing himself on the river as produce dealer and commission merchant. The capital required was small, and the work not exhaustive, for the facilities for shipping were slight and the amount to be shipped small; warehouses were of the most modest dimensions, and docks existed only in imagination. When the shipping merchant had a consignment to put on board one of the diminutive vessels that at intervals found their way into the port, the stuff was put on a flat boat and poled or rowed to the vessel's side, Business was conducted in a very leisurely manner, there being no occasion for hurry, and everybody concerned being willing to make the most of what little business there was. The slow moving Pennsylvania Dutch who had formed settlements in northeastern Ohio, and drove their wide wheeled wagons along the sometimes seemingly bottomless roads to Cleveland, plowed through the mud on the river bank in search of "de John Blair vat kips de white fishes," and after much chaffer, unloaded the flour and wheat from their wagons, and loaded up with fish and salt, sometimes giving three barrels of flour for one barrel of salt.
In 1827, the Ohio Canal was partially opened to Cleveland, and a revolution in trade was effected. The interior of the State was soon brought into communication with the enterprising merchants on Lake Erie and the Ohio river. Mr. Blair was prompt to avail himself of the opportunity to increase his trade. He built the first canal boat constructed in Cleveland, and launched her in 1828, near the site of the present Stone Mill, amid the plaudits of all the people of the village, who had turned out to witness the launching. As soon as the craft settled herself proudly on the bosom of the canal, Mr. Blair invited the spectators of the launch to come on board, and, with a good team of horses for motive power, the party were treated to an excursion as far as Eight Mile Lock and return, the whole day being consumed in the journey. Subsequently Mr. Blair became interested, with others, in a line of twelve boats, employing nearly one hundred horses to work them.
From this time Cleveland continued to grow and prosper. The products of the interior were brought in a steadily increasing stream to Cleveland by the canal, and shipped to Detroit, then the great mart of the western lakes. A strong tide of emigration had set towards Northern Michigan, and those seeking homes there had to be fed mainly by Ohio produce, for which Michigan fish and furs were given in exchange. But the opening of the Erie Canal placed a new market within reach, and Mr. Blair was among the first to take Ohio flour to New York, selling it there at fourteen dollars the barrel.
In 1845, Mr. Blair, then in the prime of his vigor, being but fifty-two years old, resolved to quit a business in which he had been uniformly successful, and spend the remainder of his life in enjoying what he had acquired by diligence and enterprise. He was then the oldest merchant in the city, having been in business over a quarter of a century. For the past twenty-four years he has taken life easy, which he has been able to do from the sensible step he adopted of quitting active business before it wore him out. At the age of seventy-five he is still hale, hearty and vigorous, looking younger than his actual years, and possessing that great desideratum, a sound mind in a sound body.
Familiar as is the name of Philo Scovill, but few of our citizens are aware that he was one of Cleveland's earliest merchants. It appears that circumstances, not altogether the choice of Mr. Scovill, induced him to come to Cleveland with a stock of drugs and groceries. His father was a millwright, and had brought up his son to the use of tools. He had no taste for his new calling, and so worked out of the store-keeping as speedily as possible, and commenced the erection of dwellings and stores in the then new country, being only second in the trade here to Levi Johnson. He continued in the building business until 1826, when he erected the Franklin House, on Superior street, on the next lot but one to the site of the Johnson House. Mr. Scovill at once became the landlord, and continued as such for twenty-three years, excepting an interval of a five years' lease.
About 1849, he left the hotel business to attend to his real estate interests. He was successful in his hotel business; and from time to time invested his surplus capital in lands adjacent to the city, which, within the last few years have become exceedingly valuable. Streets have been laid out upon his property, and inducements offered to settlers that insured a ready sale, and materially aided the growth of the city.
Mr. Scovill, as a man, has enjoyed the confidence of his fellow citizens to an unusual degree. He was hardworking, resolute, and exactly fitted by nature for the pioneer life of his choice, a life that, though toilsome, has left him still hale and vigorous, with the exception of the fruits of overwork, and perhaps exposure, in the form of rheumatism.
Mr. Scovill was born in Salisbury, Ct., November 30, 1791. He lived at that place until he was nine years of age, when his father moved to Cornwall, in the same county; thence to Shenango county, and from thence to Seneca county, N. Y. Here he lived on the banks of Seneca Lake nine years. After that he lived in Buffalo one year, from which point he came to Cleveland, as before stated.
Mr. Scovill was married February 16, 1819, to Miss Jemima Beebe. Mrs. S. is still living and enjoying excellent health.
He who has had occasion to traverse Bank street many times, or to pass along Superior at the head of Bank, must have become familiar with the figure of a hale old gentleman, to be seen frequently on sunny days, standing on the steps of the Merchants Bank, or passing along Bank street between the bank and his residence, beyond Lake street. His clothes are not of showy material or fashionable cut, one hand is generally employed in holding a clay pipe, from which he draws comfort and inspiration, and which rarely leaves his lips when on the street, except to utter some bit of dry humor, in which he especially delights. That is Melancthon Barnett, one of the "oldest inhabitants" of the Forest City, and whose well known figure and quaint jokes will be missed by his many friends out of doors, as will his wise counsels within the bank parlor, when death shall at length summon him to leave his wonted haunts.
Mr. Barnett was born in Amenia, Dutchess county, New York, in 1789. At six years old he was taken with the remainder of the family to Oneida county, where he remained until 1812, when he removed to New Hartford, near Utica, and remained two years as clerk in a store. From that place he went to Cherry Valley, Otsego County, where he went as partner in the mercantile business, and continued there until 1825. In that year Mr. May came west to Cleveland for the purpose of opening a store, and Mr. Barnett came with him as clerk. In course of time he was advanced to the position of partner, and continued in business until 1834, when May and Barnett wound up their affairs as merchants, and became speculators in land. Their real estate business was carried on successfully for many years, the steady growth of the town making their investments profitable.
In 1843, Mr. Barnett was elected Treasurer of Cuyahoga county, and proved himself one of the most capable and scrupulously honest officers the county has ever had. He held the position six years, and the business not occupying his entire time, he also filled the office of Justice of the Peace, continuing his real estate transactions at the same time.
At the close of his career as a public officer he was elected Director of the City Bank, with which he has remained to the present time, rarely, if ever, being absent during the business hours of the bank.
Mr. Barnett was married May 15, 1815, to Miss Mary Clark, at Cherry Valley. Mrs. Barnett died April 21, 1840, in Cleveland, having borne five children. Only two of these yet live, the oldest, Augustus, being in the leather business at Watertown, Wisconsin, and the younger, James, in the hardware business in Cleveland. The latter is well known for his brilliant services at the head of the Ohio Artillery during the war, in Western Virginia and Tennessee, and no name is cherished with greater pride in Cleveland than that of General James Barnett.
Joel Scranton, whose name is associated with much of the history of Cleveland, during the period when it grew from a small village to a city well on the way to permanent prosperity, was born in Belchertown, Mass., April 5, 1792. Whilst yet a child his parents removed with him to Otsego county, N. Y., where a considerable portion of his early life was spent. About the year 1820 he removed to Cleveland, where he engaged in business and remained until his death, of apoplexy, on the 9th of April, 1858, having just completed his sixty-sixth year.
In the later years of the village of Cleveland and the early days of the city, Mr. Scranton's leather and dry goods store, at the corner of Superior and Water streets, was a well known business landmark. In the prosecution of his business he succeeded in saving a comfortable competence, which was increased by his judicious investments in real estate. These last have, by the rapid growth of the city, and increase in value since his death, become highly valuable property.
Mr. Scranton was industrious, economical, and judicious in business transactions; of strong mind and well balanced judgment; a kind parent and a firm friend.
Orlando Cutter first beheld the harbor and city of Cleveland on the 30th of June, 1818, having spent nine dismal days on the schooner Ben Franklin, in the passage from Black Rock. He was landed in a yawl, at the mouth of the river, near a bluff that stood where the Toledo Railroad Machine Shops have since been built, about seventy-five rods west of the present entrance to the harbor. In those days the river entrance was of a very unreliable character, being sometimes entirely blocked up with sand, so that people walked across. It was no uncommon thing for people to ride over, or jump the outlet with the help of a pole.
Mr. Cutter walked along the beach and on the old road to Water street, and thence in a broiling sun to the frame tavern of Noble H. Merwin, on Vineyard lane, near Superior street. Here he was first introduced to Philo Scovill, a robust young carpenter, who was hewing timber for Merwin's new brick tavern, afterwards called the Mansion House.
Mr. Cutter had experienced what our city boys would regard as a rough beginning in life. At sixteen he went into a store at Royalton, Massachusetts, at a salary of four dollars a month and board; and at the end of a year had saved one dollar and a half. His pay being increased to one hundred dollars for the next year, he ventured upon the luxury of a pair of boots. In September, 1815, having proven his mettle as an active, capable and honest young man, he was translated to a large jobbing house, on Cornhill, Boston, the salary being board and clothing. Having been born at Jeffrey, New Hampshire, June 5, 1797, at the end of three years apprenticeship in the Boston establishment, he arrived at the age of twenty-one, and became his own master. The firm offered him a credit for dry goods to the amount of $10,000, with which to go west and seek his fortune, but before accepting the offer he concluded to go and see if he could find a suitable place for trade, but as he had no money, it was necessary to borrow $400 for the expenses of the trip. With a pair of well filled saddlebags as an outfit, he started, and in due time arrived at Black Rock, and from thence proceeded, as above narrated, to Cleveland, on a tour of examination.
Cleveland had then about two hundred inhabitants, and four stores. Water street was cleared out sufficiently for the purposes of travel to the lake. It was also prepared for a race course—for which purpose it was used for a number of years.
Twenty or thirty German teams from Pennsylvania, Stark, Wayne and other counties, laden with flour, each team having from four to six horses, encamped in Superior street at night, and gave Cleveland such a business appearance that Mr. Cutter took a fancy to it.
After two weeks, Mr. Cutter set sail in the schooner Wasp for Sandusky, where there was a natural harbor, and from thence in the Fire Fly, for Detroit. But his thoughts reverted to Cleveland, and forming a partnership with Messrs. Mack & Conant, of Detroit, the firm purchased twenty thousand dollars worth of dry goods, groceries, and a general assortment for an extensive establishment here.
In February, 1820, he married Miss Phelps, of Painesville, Ohio, who died in 1829, two of whose children are now living. His competitors in business were Nathan Perry, J. R. & I. Kelly, S. S. Dudley and Dr. David Long. It was only about a year after he opened in Cleveland when Mack & Conant failed, throwing the Cleveland purchase entirely upon him. After ten years of hard work, and close application, he paid off the whole, but at the close it left him only five hundred dollars in old goods. Ohio currency was not exactly money in those days. It was at a discount of twenty-five to thirty per cent. for eastern funds. There was, moreover, little of it, and there were stay laws, and the appraisal of personal, as well as real estate, under execution, rendering collections almost impossible. To illustrate: a man in Middleburg, Cuyahoga county, Ohio, owed Mr. Cutter seventy-five dollars. He went to attend the constable's sale, and found among the effects a dog appraised at ten dollars; rails ten cents each, and a watch worth five dollars valued at twenty dollars, so he left the place in disgust and hurried home, through the woods, in no placid frame of mind. Of four new shoes put on his horse that morning, three had been torn off by the mud, roots, and corduroy between Cleveland and Middleburg.
After closing up the old business, he posted books or turned his hand to whatever employment presented itself. Inactivity and despondency formed no part of his character. About 1827, there was a temporary business connection between himself and Thos. M. Kelly, after which he started again alone, adding the auction and commission business to that of a merchant.
Mr. Cutter, in November, 1832, was married to Miss Hilliard, sister of the late Richard Hilliard. Of this marriage there are seven children now living, most of them settled in the city. William L. is cashier of the Merchants National Bank; Edwin succeeded his father two years since at the old auction store in Bank street, and R. H. is the principal partner of Cutter & Co., upholsterers.